Dig out the spare tutu and the lederhosen because it’s just about time to join your neighbors for a January dip in Lake Minnetonka that’s sure to take your breath away: the Lake Minnetonka Polar Plunge, rebranded from last year’s Mound Polar Plunge, is Saturday, Jan. 25 at Surfside Beach in Mound.
“Just come out and try it!” urged Chris Fischer, deputy chief of Orono Police. “About a minute of being cold…it’s a very limited amount of discomfort for such a good time and such a good cause.”
Fischer would know: he plunged last year, too, and Orono PD, alias Frozen Copsicles, has started strong in fundraising this year, already #4 on the Minnesota all-state plunge leaderboard for local law enforcement.
A network of Polar Plunges – those dives and dips into the ice cold – spans the globe to benefit Special Olympics everywhere, and plungers pledge $75 or more every time they plunge.
Last year’s plunge at Surfside counted 172 plungers and raised just under $42,000 for Special Olympics Minnesota. As of Dec. 30, 66 Lake Minnetonka teams and individuals have raised $4,264 toward a goal of $45,000 for the 2020 plunge.
Special Olympics Minnesota puts on more than 25 plunges around the state every year, said Molly Egan, a plunge coordinator with the nonprofit. This year lists 31 events between mid-January and mid-March, plus the Gopher Plunge in October.
“These events really do bring communities together and allow people to fully embrace Minnesota winters,” said Egan. “I mean, what’s more Minnesotan than jumping into a hole cut in a frozen lake?”
Money raised at the plunges benefit some 8,100 athletes across the state who participate in athletic competitions and Special Olympics programs like Young Athletes, Unified Sports, Healthy Athletes and Athlete Leadership.
“We work closely with committees made up of different community members to put on this event,” said Egan. “All of our Polar Plunges are presented by law enforcement, so the local agencies are one of the main driving forces of the event and we couldn’t put them on without their help.”
Orono Police, the Mound Fire Department, Westonka Community & Commerce, the Mound Westonka Rotarians and Surfside Bar & Grill are this year’s primary local organizers of the plunge. It was Dan Zellmer from Surfside who first contacted Fischer a couple years ago about hosting a plunge, and that became reality last year with the first plunge ever to be held on Lake Minnetonka.
And whether a balmy 35 degrees or subzero and snowing, it’s happening again.
“Will it be warm, cold, snowy, clear? Will we have good ice or bad ice? All these things can change the plunge, but we’re prepared for it all and are always ready to roll with the punches with whatever weather we are given,” said Egan.
And those tutus and lederhosen? The costumes are optional (but plentiful – you might be odd man out without one).
And perhaps a bit of tulle around the waist will help stave off the chill.